Crossing Sea of Cortez

Leading up to our “big crossing” from Baja to mainland Mexico was probably more nerve-wracking for me than the actual crossing.  This would be my first time doing an overnight crossing without crew.  Being just Dave and me I was worried that we wouldn’t sleep enough and we’d be tired and cranky, and most worrisome, that I’d be so overcome with seasickness that I wouldn’t be able to pull my weight leaving Dave to do a two day crossing on his own.  But it all went fairly smooth. 

We headed south from the islands and hit up Muertos again for a night.  We ate at the 1535 Restaurant (golf club restaurant that I couldn’t remember the name of before) to enjoy some fresh, non-canned food and did a few loads of laundry.  Just as we were calling it a day and putting the dinghy away for the next mornings’ sail, lo and behold, our friends from s/v Way She Goes came sailing into the anchorage!  We hadn’t seen them since San Diego.  It was worth waiting on hoisting the dinghy on deck to go over to their boat for a catch up and some fresh ceviche that Sheila had just made up.  We had a great time recalling our adventures over the last couple of months and we gave them some tips about exploring the islands as they were heading north.  We did try to convince them to just head south to Mazatlan with us and rejoin the Navigo, Camanoe, Way She Goes trifecta, but they had other plans that they wanted to stick to.    So south we went and north they went. 

From Muertos to Los Frailes the next day we caught our very first Mahi Mahi fish.  It made an absolute mess!  We still can’t get the blood out of our hatch cover.  Now we know; when we start reeling in a fish, I need to remove all the white covers on the back of the deck.  LOL.  It was oh so yummy having fresh, white flesh fish after all those dark red meat bonitos.

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Not the biggest dorado, but enough for us!

At 160 nautical miles across, Los Frailes is the shortest point from southern Baja to the mainland/Mazatlan.  We sailed out of the anchorage about 8am on December 20th with the wind in just the right position to set us in the direction of Mazatlan.  Dave took the first shift from 7am to 1pm and I took the next shift from 1pm to 7pm.  We were able to sail through most of the day, sticking around 4 or 5 knots, but towards the end of my shift, the winds died to nothing.  We attempted the spinnaker but that didn’t help any, so we gave in and started up the motor.  We motored through the night.  The drone kept me up during the time I was supposed to be sleeping and Dave didn’t get much sleep either with all the creaking from down below.  From up on deck I could see Dave getting up, turning on lights, banging on things and arranging things to keep the creaking and squeaking throughout the cabin down, laying back down and then a few minutes later getting up to do it all again.

Besides the insistent noise from the engine, my solo night watch wasn’t too bad.  I started to get pretty sleepy halfway through as I had been up for almost 24 hours, but my method of staying awake is the same on the boat as it was back home if I had a long car drive.  Just have a Stephanie Concert.  I turn on music I like to sing along to and just sing my little heart out.  The engine noise actually helped in this regard because Dave couldn’t hear me up on deck through the drone.

This was also the first time during all of our travels that I’d stayed up through the night and watched the sun rise from beginning to end.  It’s a humbling experience to be sitting in darkness and then all of a sudden have a glow of light in the distance.  The more it grew, the more beautiful the sky became. Just sky and clouds as far as I could see.

As we had predicted, by the time it was Dave’s watch again, the morning winds had picked up enough that we could bring out the headsail and turn off the engine.  AHHHH…PEACE AND QUIET FINALLY!  It didn’t take more than a minute for me to fall fast asleep after my long watch.

When I woke up around noon, we were still sailing along nicely, sometimes hitting 7 or 8 knots, and we could just make out land in the distance.  With about 30 miles left, we knew we were going to hit Mazatlan by dusk and hopefully get into the old harbor anchorage before it was too dark.

The Mazatlan skyline welcomed us about 5pm, just as the sun was setting and making the buildings on shore sparkle.

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Land Ho!  Mazatlan and a pretty sunset. (Click on photo for a larger view)

In all, we did the 160 NMs in about 30 hours.  Camanoe sailed with what she had and Dave and I were pretty proud of ourselves for a seamless crossing.  Oh, and no seasickness on my part. 🙂

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Time to Catch Up!

Happy Holidays to all!  Capt’ Dave and I have had a great last month or so exploring the islands near La Paz and making the crossing to Mazatlan a couple of days before Christmas.  Usually I keep up our blog by writing posts and setting them aside until we have internet access. Well….we were having so much fun in the islands that I haven’t spent a second blogging about our adventure since the last post about Los Muertos.  So….here’s a recap for each of the places we’ve been to and then you can check out our Flick page for all the photos.

Nov 19/20 – Tried to make the sail from Los Muertos to Puerto Ballandra near La Paz but we couldn’t make it through the San Lorenzo channel before sundown so we stopped with friends on Navigo and Estrellita at Puerto Bonanza. 

Dave and I made the short trip over to Balandra the next morning for some swimming and leisurely wading through the picturesque beach.  We anchored so close to the shoaled beach that we just dove in and swam ashore.  It was actually A LOT farther than we thought to get to the wading area and the current was really strong going back the other direction later in the day so Dave swam back to the boat and got the dinghy so I could safely get back to the boat.  Good thing he likes me so much!

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Dave posing with El Hongo rock (L), and the beautiful water and sandbar in Ballandra (R)

Ballandra is famous for it’s El Hongo Rock (a rock shaped like a mushroom).  We took lots of pics and had a nice day exploring this popular spot.

Nov 20-29 – We spent the week of Thanksgiving in La Paz.  We were excited to get to a city where we could replenish our supplies on the boat but more excited that it wouldn’t be as touristy or as annoying as Cabo,    And while this was mostly true, we did have some mishaps in La Paz.  We anchored out and had quite a time dealing with the infamous “La Paz Waltz.”  Basically, this means that due to the currents and winds in the anchorage, the boats swing in all different directions (which isn’t normal; everyone should be swinging the small way).  Our dinghy got the brunt of all the swinging and banged into Camanoe quite a bit; we lost an oar and pierced a hole in the dinghy’s innertube.  It also rammed into the wind vane at some point and dislodged some of the gears.  Basically, if we ever go back to La Paz, we feel like it would be worth it to anchor closer to the marina or just pay the money to dock.

Thanksgiving with about 200 other cruisers was a really fun day.  I got all the turkey and stuffing that I could…stuff myself with.  Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun. 

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Cruisers enjoying Thanksgiving at Marina Palmira in La Paz.  It was a sunny, hot day. Probably about 90*F.

Actually, the best part about La Paz was this burger place called “The Shack.”  Best burgers ever. And Huge. The cruising community loves this place and you’ll see a lot of boats represented on the walls where you’re invited to make your mark in Sharpie and leave a note.

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Cruiser friends hanging out at The Shack (L) and Leaving Camanoe’s mark on the signature wall at The Shack (R).

Nov 30-Dec 20 – We spent the next three weeks in the islands North of La Paz (Isla Espiratu Santo, Isla Partida and Isla San Francisco).  When we left La Paz, the weather was still warm enough to wear shorts and tank tops all day.  But by the middle of December, we were pulling out jackets and long pants again to fend off the chilly winds that blow through the islands.  We could still enjoy the sunny days, but there was no more swimming and we were having to bundle up after sundown.

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View of Isla San Francisco anchorage (L), Bob from s/v Navigo hiking with us in Ensenada del Candelero on Isla Partida (Center), and Estrellita joining us for a dinghy ride to the far side of Isla Espiratu Santo to see the sea caves (R).

But, regardless of the weather, we spent a fantastic few weeks with s/v Navigo and s/v Estrellita (among other cruising friends) exploring these remote islands, having easy, short sails from anchor to anchor, and admiring our own self-sufficiency for being able to create our own power and stay on the hook for over a month (we’d been anchoring since Cabo in early November!).

The islands were each unique and we had some great moments that I’ll have to blog about separately.

Nov 22 to Today – We crossed the Sea of Cortez and made it to Mazatlan in time for the Christmas holiday.   We’ve relaxed a bit, given Camanoe a much needed fresh water bath, spent some time working on boat projects and I was able to go out yesterday with some girlfriends to do some shopping.  We’re excited to be docked in one of the marinas here so we can easily restock our galley.  We’ve run into a lot of Ha-Ha friends and sadly missed some on their way south (Panache, Convivia, we miss you!).  It’s not MUCH warmer here in Mazatlan, but we look forward to increasing temps as we head farther south in the next couple weeks.  Now that we have more consistent internet, I really have no excuses about keeping everyone updated on our adventures.  I’ll post the islands recap shortly and hopefully have Mazatlan pictures up soon.

Happy Holidays everyone!